SHS introduces gender affirming care to support 5C students

An image of the Claremont Colleges logo (five stars interlocking) colored in the trans flag colors, over a dark purple background. A stethoscope winds its way over and under the stars, forming a heart shape above the logo.
(Sasha Matthews • The Student Life)

The Claremont Colleges’ Student Health Services (SHS) now offers gender affirming care for all students under their health plan, an expansion to their service coverage as of January 2023. 

“Student Health Services (SHS) at the Claremont Colleges is committed to providing culturally competent and inclusive services to all students under our care,” SHS said Dec. 14 via email. “As part of that commitment, our leadership team continually looks for opportunities to improve and expand our current suite of services.”

Also commonly referred to as transgender health care, gender affirming care includes an array of services that are meant to support a person’s gender identity, specifically when that person’s identity does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender affirming care at SHS includes gender affirming hormonal therapy (GAHT) by trained healthcare providers who consult with students to prescribe hormonal regimens, according to the SHS website. SHS is also equipped to refer students to local resources in cases of complicated or non-hormonal services. 

Assistant director of the Queer Resource Center Pharalyn Robinson said in an email to TSL that previously, students had to endure long commutes and wait times to be attended to, as well as receive bills for labs from out of network providers. 

“Receiving these services at SHS comes with greater transparency of pricing, no commute and much shorter wait times for care,” Robinson said. “The addition of PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] and PEP [post-exposure prophylaxis] at SHS, along with the new gender affirming care means that our queer and trans students don’t have to go outside of the consortium for their basic health care needs.”

The mission to install gender affirming care at the 5Cs started with the inception of the Trans Health Task Force (THTF) eight years ago, Robinson stated. THTF is composed of SHS practitioners and Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS) staff from the QRC and Health Education Outreach, students, and other faculty and staff. 

The THTF assisted in several ways, including providing training and resources for development of the care. Robinson believes that having gender affirming services on-campus will benefit students greatly. 

As someone who has been a part of this work for the last five years, I want to acknowledge all the labor of my colleagues, past and present, that helped us to arrive at this goal,” Robinson said.

Nolwenn Sharp PO ’26 also recognizes the benefits of this work.

“It’s no secret that finding good providers for gender affirming care is difficult to say the least,” Sharp said in an email to TSL. “I think having a provider on campus will help a lot of people.”

While Sharp already has a provider, she said that she would happily switch to SHS if a situation arose with her provider or insurance. 

She also stated her hopes for this care to allow transgender people at the 5Cs to lead happier lives, referring to being part of a community that claims to be dedicated to healthy diversity.

“Giving trans students access to necessary healthcare on campus is the bare minimum of creating a diverse, inclusive environment,” Sharp said to TSL. “I think that when schools are devoted to serving trans kids’ needs, the on-campus culture becomes healthier.”

At the same time, Sharp recognizes that not all healthcare is the same.

“There is such a thing as good and bad gender affirming care,” Sharp said. “I hope that SHS takes the time to listen and center trans people in the conversation about our healthcare needs.”

Students interested in receiving gender affirming care from SHS can learn more at the SHS Gender Affirming Care webpage.

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